Re: "Yes, Microsoft's leaning on major PC manufacturers "
"PC manufacturers get "all-or-nothing" discount deals which make offering non-Windows alternatives very expensive."
In practise, impossible. "Nothing" option means not being able to sell any Microsoft product or advertisements on those and that's a lot of money.
Almost half of the profit for HW-maker on cheap Windows-laptop is from advertisements and 3rd party programs (systematically called "crapware") pre-installed to it.
Often so you can't remove them without installing whole system from retail Windows-DVD and *puff*, none of the drivers needed aren't there as they exist only in vendor and version spesific image installed in to the machine. So you live with crapware or don't use the machine. Nice.
So far that on paper similar Dell-laptops, 1 month between buying, couldn't connect to network with each other's rescue disk as -tadaa- network card had changed in between, totally different.
Of course neither worked with retail-Windows-DVD either. I wasn't surprised.